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Sheinberg v. Sorensen

August 22, 2006

LAWRENCE SHEINBERG AND GILES HAZEL ON BEHALF ON THEMSELVES AND OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT SORENSEN AND LITETRONICS INTERNATIONAL, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald J. Hedges, U.S.M.J.

OPINION

INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before me on the motions of defendants Robert Sorensen and Litetronics International, Inc., to strike plaintiffs' jury demand and to decertify the class.*fn1

Plaintiffs Lawrence Sheinberg and Giles Hazel oppose the motions. I have considered the papers submitted in support of and in opposition to the motions. There was no oral argument. Rule 78.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed the Complaint and jury demand on December 14, 2000. On May 20, 2002, plaintiffs' motion to certify the class was granted, permitting three hundred and fifty non-union employees of Duro-Test Corporation ("Duro-Test"), including salaried management personnel, engineers, commissioned sales employees and support staff to join in the action. Plaintiffs' collective claims arise from defendants' failure to provide the employees with pay wages, sales commissions, benefits, health insurance premiums and coverage, as well as timely notice of the Duro-Test plant closure.

DuroLite International, Inc., a named defendant under the original Complaint, was voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs at oral argument before Judge Linares. Fleet Financial, once named a third party defendant, was held not liable and dismissed. On December 29, 2005, Judge Linares issued an Opinion and Amended Order dismissing a number of plaintiffs' causes of action against the defendants. The surviving claims arise under Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. 206; Section 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1104, et seq.; the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("Warn Act"), 29 U.S.C. 2121(a) (this claim was dismissed against Sorensen); the New Jersey Wage Payment Statute, N.J.S.A. 34:11-4.2, et seq.; and common law tortious conversion.*fn2

The parties are closely familiar with the facts of this case which were set forth at length in their submissions as well as in prior court opinions, and thus, the facts will not be reiterated herein.

ANALYSIS

A. Class Decertification

On objections of both parties to my March 5, 2002, Report and Recommendation ("R&R") to certify three hundred and fifty non-union Duro-Test employees as a class, Judge Hayden reviewed the R&R de novo. Judge Hayden found that the R&R properly addressed the class certification issues and certified the class on May 20, 2002. The class membership consists of 350 non-union employees of Duro-Test including salaries managers, engineers, commissioned sales personnel and support staff affected by the plant closing.

1. Decertification for Failure to Provide Notice under ERISA

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) provides, in pertinent part:

One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all if (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; (2) there are questions of law or fact common the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and (4) ...


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